Media Minute: Controversy can be your friend
By Jerry Brown, APR
Rush Limbaugh’s built a lucrative career around being controversial. He says a lot of outrageous things. And the resulting notoriety has been good for him, boosting his ratings and income.
But there are limits even for Limbaugh. For the first time I can remember, Limbaugh apologized over the weekend for one of his comments. He issued a statement telling college student Sandra Fluke he was sorry for calling her a slut.
Most of us don’t want the kind of notoriety Limbaugh courts. And rightly so. But many companies go to the other extreme, trying to avoid any hint of controversy whatsoever.
The fact is there are times when controversy can be your friend. My favorite example, and one I’ve used before in the Media Minute, is Caller ID. The introduction of Caller ID in the late 1980s sparked a lot of controversy. And the controversy generated a lot of media coverage.
Phone companies saw all that free publicity for their upcoming service as negative media coverage. They hated it. What they didn’t realize until later was that the “negative” publicity built demand and helped sell the product.
I’m not suggesting you engage in mudslinging, make incendiary comments or look for ways to pick a fight. But there are times when controversy can be your friend. And, of course, there are times when it isn’t.
The key is to recognize when it is and when it isn’t. And to act accordingly.
That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?